Rock, October 2022

hfnalbum.pngWorking Men's Club
Fear Fear
Heavenly HVNLP203CD; HVNLP203C

Still only 20, Sydney Minsky-Sargeant wrote about the downside of teen life in the Calder Valley on the group's acclaimed self-titled 2020 debut. Here he has broadened his approach, seeking to make uplifting music with dark, if compassionate, lyrical themes of loss and turmoil. He achieves this balance on the neo-electropop of 'Widow', although on the title track synths whirl like sirens and the compressed, drum machine-powered sound feels like it's inches from your face – like an update of the '80s industrial funk of Cabaret Voltaire. They get rockier on the New Order-ish, guitar-driven 'Cut' and this compelling album concludes with a drive off into some unknown zone on the lengthy, mantric 'The Last One'. MB


Tim Bowness
Butterfly Mind
Inside Out 194399737828; LP: 19439973791

The former No-Man singer celebrates 40 years of making music and his seventh solo album features cameos from prog legends Peter Hammill on vocals, Ian Anderson on flute, and ex-Magazine keyboards man Dave Formula. Bowness always sounds like his voice is gently glancing off the surface of the music, while typically exploring themes of disquiet and loss, particularly on 'Glitter Fades'. Mixed by Steven Wilson, this is one of his most varied releases. There's some sturdy but stately rock, skeletal funk and synth pop, and the immersive 'It's Easier To Love' is redolent of David Sylvian in its wandering saxophone and backdrop of sumptuous synthesised strings. MB


See Those Colours Fly

Days before recording their first album in ten years, Breathless were almost derailed when drummer Tristram Latimer Sayer was injured in a car accident. But the group carried on using synthetic drums that tick away in the background, and their ethereal, transcendental sound – Dominic Appleton has sung with This Mortal Coil – has became even more spartan and dreamlike, with a melancholic feel. The band cite Pink Floyd and The Velvet Underground as influences, and one could add the uncanny sweetness of Angelo Badalamenti. And while it's uniformly slow, the songs are well constructed; keyboards and guitar motifs provide fine detail within its epic sweep. MB


Martin Courtney
Magic Sign
Domino WIGCD449; LP: WIGLP449

Courtney is the singer and guitarist in American indie group Real Estate, whose music is typically subtle and sunny. Over picked acoustic guitar and sighing pedal steel, on this album he harks back to his teenage years, stoned and driving around with friends, trying to get lost. These themes of finding new experiences and escaping the humdrum: 'looking for a magic sign' also appears on the similarly nostalgic 'Shoes'. Sonically it's warm and seductive, but never bland as his trademark finely-wrought tunes and vocal harmonies are balanced by bittersweet lyrics, and on 'Sailboats' sharper guitars and buzzing synth lines inject a bit more bite. MB